ARLINGTON, Va. - Saying "the rules of the game are changing," British Prime Minister Tony Blair has proposed tough new anti-terror measures that would deport clerics who preach hate and close their mosques, bar entry to Muslim radicals and shut bookstores and Web sites that promote murder and revolution.
Mr. Blair's actions are long overdue, and that's the problem. Some have been warning for many years not to let these hostile invaders into Europe and the United States, but they were labeled "Islamophobes" and "racists" by people whose objective was to keep the doors wide open, allowing more killers to come in.
In a televised address Friday, Mr. Blair said, "We welcome people here who share our values and our way of life." The problem in Britain and the rest of Europe - and increasingly in the United States - is that we have forgotten what those values are. We have subordinated them to the nonspecific to avoid offending a particular group or culture not endemic to the host country.
The actress Joan Collins bemoaned Britain's loss of national identity in an Aug. 4 column for London's Daily Mail newspaper. She said her native England now regards using the country's name as "a much-frowned-upon no-no," preferring "U.K." instead. Ms. Collins also lamented the hooliganism, rudeness and lack of manners she sees sweeping England.
She wrote, "I believe that when a country loses so much respect for itself that it can no longer even be identified by its historically correct name, insecurity and lack of respect filter down to its inhabitants."
Will the Blair policy resemble the Nazis' 1933 book-burning party in Berlin where the government destroyed texts by Jews, communists and other "undesirables" - but with a much higher purpose? If they're looking for bookstores with incendiary Islamic books and tapes, they could begin their search in the neighborhood of author Damian Thompson.
In an Aug. 6 column for The Daily Telegraph in London, Mr. Thompson wrote of his local Islamic bookshop that carries The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a viscerally anti-Semitic and totally concocted book. It claims that Jews "ritually murder Christian children and use their blood to season Passover matzo balls." Another book argues that the United States was complicit in the 9/11 attacks; yet another asserts President Bush planned the attacks.
Unfortunately, Mr. Blair's proposed get-tough measures do not extend to the likes of George Galloway. The member of Parliament has said, "It is not the Muslims who are terrorists. The biggest terrorists are Bush and Blair."
After a recent visit to Syria, Mr. Galloway apparently sought to justify lethal attacks on British troops in Iraq on grounds that the terrorists "are defending all the people of the world from American hegemony." He labeled as "collaborators" Iraqis who had joined the security forces to try to defend their country from terrorists.
What does that make Mr. Galloway if not a terrorist collaborator? His remarks were carried on Al-Jazeera and throughout the Arab world.
Mr. Blair wants to deport radical foreigners to countries with which Britain can negotiate agreements to ensure they won't be tortured or executed. He says he has reached such an agreement with Jordan and is working on producing others with Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. But why should any of those countries welcome Islamic radicals and terrorists when they have problems with fundamentalists in their own countries?
The United States should also do a better job of deporting Muslim extremists and keeping new ones out. The Washington Post recently reported on the proliferation of mosques in the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C. If they are like many other mosques cropping up around the country, Saudi Arabia is likely footing much of the bill to promote Wahabbism, the most virulent and poisonous form of Islam.
Mr. Blair should be welcomed to reality, but his efforts, while necessary, are probably too little, too late.
Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun.